But the campaign is well under way with Howard and his opposition opponent Rudd launching frenzied media campaigns over the weekend.
The trigger for ramping up the campaign was the Australian Labor Party Conference, an event which would generally entertain us with party infighting and power struggles. But this year there is a whiff of electoral success and the more feisty delegates have reigned themselves in.
Despite Labor’s socialist roots Rudd has easily taken party policy to the centre, and focussed on watering down Howard’s draconian industrial relations laws and going soft on nuclear development in
In an effort to drive wedges into the ALP conference, Howard has come out hard, ramping up rhetoric on bot these issues. To make his point, Howard had to move into extreme territory; anything for a headline.
Given the current economic climate he might well have shot himself in the foot. The economy, on paper at least, looks good at the moment. But figures released at the weekend show a slightly different story.
Housing prices are moving up steadily, for example, but not across the board. Blue ribbon Liberal seats are booming. But out in the mortgage belt where the Liberals hold many marginal seats prices are dropping, and so is support for the government.
For a government primarily campaigning on economic prowess the Liberals are losing support in their hard won marginal seats. Howard’s increasingly hard line on non-economic issues are not helping his cause.
On the nuclear issue Howard has left himself open to public fears of nuclear reactors in the suburbs. Yet he is talking up the nuclear option while denying issues of climate change which are already having dramatic effects across the country.
As the courts continue to punish employers who implement some of the more extreme aspects of the IR laws, Howard’s troops are feverishly working on amending legislation to close off legal challenges.
Like most voters, Australian’s don’t like any form of extremism and Howard is being pushed to extremes.